Friday, 22 March 2013

REVIEW: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter At The Feast

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have just released their seventh album 'Specter At The Feast', which recently received a rather negative review on GIITTV, which can be read HERE. So I think it's only fair to offer an alternative perspective on this record. Initially I didn't warm to the album immediately, but it requires a few plays to make its full impact, and after a week I'm finding it hard to identify that many faults. 

The brooding 'Firewalker' opens the record in a creeping, shadowy fashion. It's almost a bit "desert rock" in fact. It builds up a menacing and ominous tension with a hypnotic, slow-burning groove, before the storming single 'Let The Day Begin' kicks in. It is in fact a cover version, yet every beat and riff sounds like pure BRMC. You wouldn't know any different if you had never heard the original by The Call, a band who included Michael Been, who died in 2010. Michael was the father of BRMC bassist Robert, and he would have been immensely proud of this loud and appropriate musical salute. The achingly tender ‘Returning’ is in fact not unlike U2's slower moments, except it's more vulnerable in character rather than big and blustery. Everything about it seems mournful, and it's quite lovely. One that takes a few plays to appreciate though. A definite highlight comes within the introspective beauty of ‘Lullaby’, a plaintive and heartfelt moment that glows amidst a blissful melancholic haze, touched with a hint of 'Meddle'-era Pink Floyd.

A more familiar side of BRMC returns for the sleazy riffs and almost Bowie-like disco groove of 'Have The Taste', a hard rocking tune with a direct, infectious chorus and fierce, distorted guitars. It can also easily be danced to. The gentle ambience of ‘Sometimes The Light' is also a wonderful moment, drifting upon a heavenly organ drone, and 'Some Kind Of Ghost' is a dark and soulful, stoned gospel blues hymn. The glam rhythms and hard riffing guitars of ‘Funny Games’ occasionally lead the songs into a more psychedelic style, yet it also possesses all the dangerously cool of the debut album. Elsewhere, they may be moving more towards hard rock territory with the aggressive, no-nonsense ‘Teenage Disease', which may not be that original, but it sure is pleasing.

The snarling 'Sell It' also builds on the grunge influence, and about four and a half minutes in, there are some devastatingly awesome guitars. It should be the LP closer. The raging 'Rival’ is less successful, and while there is certainly something nice about the emotionally downtempo serenity of the closing ‘Lose Yourself’, it doesn't need to be anywhere near nine minutes long, and outstays its welcome. The group may not be bringing that many new ideas in to their music, but they haven't completely covered this ground before, and have never sounded quite this introspective before. All of it may take a while to sink in, but 'Specter At The Feast' isn't short of memorable songs. Maybe it's not as fresh and exciting as the first two LPs, instead it works in a different way. It's definitely something that could be termed a grower. It's a 3.5 out of 5 for me.

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